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Would you brave “65 Below” for a chance to win a free Kindle? FREE KINDLE NATION SHORT – 1/4/2011 – An Excerpt from 65 BELOW by Basil Sands, plus a chance to win a free Kindle!

By Stephen Windwalker
Editor of Kindle Nation Daily ©Kindle Nation Daily 2011
If you’ve been a subscriber to Kindle Nation for a while you already know you can discover some great reading with our generous Free Kindle Nation Shorts excerpts.

But this week we are taking things one giant step further. In addition to offering us a riveting 20,000-word excerpt from his extreme adventure page-turner 65 Below, author Basil Sands is giving away free Kindles!

First, let’s talk about a great, suspenseful read from a fearless storyteller:

After twenty years hunting terrorists under orders to “render harmless”, USMC Master Sergeant Marcus Orlando Johnson, Mojo to his friends, settles into a quiet rural retirement on his childhood home in the Alaskan backwoods. But the idyllic retirement is shattered when Marcus comes across soldiers of America’s staunchest enemy who are about to unleash a nightmarish biological weapon on the world from the most unexpected of places. With the help of his ex-fiancee, State Trooper Lonnie Wyatt, and his old special operations buddy Harley Wasner they race to stop a potentially devastating terrorist attack with worldwide implications but even nature is against them as the temperatures plummet to 65 below.

Originally only available as a podcast audiobook, 65 Below developed an audience of tens of thousands of listeners around the world. The text version includes new scenes and additional characters not in the original audio.

“Basil Sands has a knack for blending action and intrigue in an all-too realistic setting. In Karl’s Last Flight, the future is reminiscent of our recent past. I just hope there are heroes like Basil’s heroes fighting on our side. “
-Evo Terra, founder of Podiobooks.com

“Sands is fearless in his storytelling, and tireless in his quest to connect directly with his audience. Big Publishing? Watch out for this guy.” Scott Sigler, NYT Bestselling author of Infected, Contagious, and Ancestor

“Basil Sands is one awesome writer, penning stories pumped with enough adrenaline that you’ll suffer from insomnia until you read the last word. This is one writer not to be missed.” – Jeremy Robinson, author of PULSE and INSTINCT

Scroll down to begin reading the excerpt

Click here to purchase the entire book from Amazon.

65 Below

by Basil Sands
Kindle Edition

List Price: $2.99

Buy Now

And while you’re at it,
don’t miss this opportunity
to win a brand new Kindle!

Author Basil Sands is giving away Kindles!

Here’s the set-up, as he provided it to us:

Buy 65 Below in between January 1st and March 31st 2011 and be entered to win a new Kindle WiFi reader! For every thousand initial entries I’ll be giving away a brand new Kindle 3 eReader! No limit on how many I will give away!

To enter the contest email a copy of your Amazon order number to kindle@basilsands.com.

Want more entries?
Get up to 10 extra entriesin the drawing. After the initial entry do the following:

4 extra entries: Go to http://www.basilsands.com/ and from the comment page send a comment with the answer to this question:

“What military organization was Temebe a veteran of?”

4 extra entries:

Get four extra entries for leaving a review or comment at the purchase pages:




And three more for leaving a comment at my website


That makes for up to 11 entries in the contest to win a free Kindle 3 eReader! What are you waiting for?

–Basil Sands

excerptAn Excerpt from

65 Below
A novel by Basil Sands

Copyright © 2010 by Basil Sands and published here with his permission.

Chapter 1

Suburban Neighborhood
Seattle Washington
June 16th
19:25 Hours

The knife was razor-sharp. Shock morphed into terror as Michael realized first that he could make no sound, then that he could not breathe. There was no pain, but he knew something was very wrong. He reached up to grab his throat. When his hand touched his neck, his head flopped at an awkward angle. Blood jetted upward in two powerful streams, spattering against the ceiling and walls with rhythmic pulses that left abstract patterns, symbolizing his quickly draining life.
From Nikola’s perspective, Michael stood upright for a long time, longer than he had thought possible. He had slit many throats in his life. Most grasped their throat and collapsed, or just crumpled and died. Nikola stared back in amusement.
“Don’t look at me like that, Michael. You killed yourself,” Nikola said. “Did you actually think I would let you lead the infidel here, then just allow you to walk away?”
Michael’s lips moved in a soundless response.
“Sorry, I didn’t hear what you said.”
His eyelids fluttered in rapid spasms. Blood spurted in a final massive geyser. The dying man’s eyes rolled back and at long last he collapsed to the floor. Blood continued to ooze from his half-severed neck, soaking into the fabric of the old carpet. Seconds later, red and blue strobes of police and FBI vehicles flashed on the street outside. Nikola called out to the other men in the house.
“Now is your time, brothers!”
The response came with the sound of shattering glass. A moment, later a burst of automatic weapon fire exploded from upstairs. Nikola glanced out the window toward the mass of police cars. An officer rose from behind a patrol car to shoot. His skull burst in a cloud of red, spraying goo on the men behind him. His body tumbled backward onto the pavement. A medic ran to the downed officer, and all hell broke loose on the house. Every weapon in the mass of police officers and FBI agents exploded to life at once.
Nikola reached for a black box on the coffee table. He picked it up and set it on the dead man’s chest. With two flicks of a finger, he armed the high-explosive magnesium bomb. It would leave almost no trace of the bodies, and incinerate everything it came in contact with. Wood, flesh, glass, even metal. The houses on either side would likely also be destroyed. In sixty seconds, the other men in the house would join the legions of martyrs who had gone before them, whether they realized it or not.
Nikola stepped into the kitchen and entered the pantry. He yanked a metal handle on the floor and lifted the crawl space access, then ducked into the darkness. Dust and dryer lint scratched at his throat and forced a sneeze out of his nose. He scurried toward the outer foundation wall on his hands and knees. The gravel surface cut into his palms. He found the small escape tunnel and slithered in on his belly. The narrow space was barely wide enough for his thick frame. He fast-crawled ten meters until reaching the Seattle sewer system access tunnel. The air flew from his lungs as a jolt of hot compressed air shot him out of the tiny tunnel, slamming him against the far wall of the sewer. His ears screamed against the blast of sound.
Heat waves seared his clothes as he sprinted through the barely lit tunnel. He scrambled up a ladder, loosened the access cover, and climbed out onto a seldom-used bike trail, then vanished into the evening twilight.

Chapter 2

Richardson Highway
East of Fairbanks, Alaska
17 December
16:00 Hours

“Damn! When it gets dark out here, it’s dark as death.”
Eugene Wyatt drove as fast as conditions allowed down the Richardson Highway in his beige Ford F250 Crew Cab pickup, with the Tanana Valley Electric Cooperative logo emblazoned on the doors. It was only four in the afternoon, but the late December sun had already long descended, leaving the land in total inky blackness. His three-year-old Golden Retriever, Penny, sat on the passenger side of the wide bench seat. She turned and stared out the window apparently not into the conversation. The dog’s breath shot a burst of steam onto the frigid glass a few inches away every time she exhaled. Her tongue hung limply over the teeth of her open mouth.
On any typical evening, there would have been brightly lit signs atop tall poles in front of the gas stations. He’d usually see neon beer advertisements pulsing blue, red, and yellow from within the windows of busy bars as he passed through the small city of North Pole, then the even smaller town of Moose Creek. Tonight, only the glow of candles and oil lamps flickered dimly between the curtains of the scattering of homes along the highway. The power was out, everywhere.
Eugene looked at Penny, who stared transfixed out the truck window. The frost from her breath created a ring of ice crystals on the glass she appeared to be studying. The weather had warmed up significantly in the past few days after an unseasonal cold snap that held the land at negative fifty for several weeks. The red mercury line on the thermometer now hovered at a livable zero degrees Fahrenheit.
Eugene remembered the line a comedian had used on TV the night before.
If it’s zero degrees, does that mean there’s no temperature?
The humor of the line dissipated fast. There had never been an outage like this in Eugene’s thirty years in Alaska’s electricity business. At first, the authorities thought it was a local failure within the Tanana Valley Cooperative area. It wasn’t long before they discovered it was much bigger.
The phone company went out at the same time. Cellular towers failed. The whole of the Interior region of Alaska, an area the size of New York State, was thrown back into the 19th century in an instant.
The only places that had not gone completely dark were the hospitals, airport control tower, and the Public Safety Emergency Operations Center. Those systems had automatic physical disconnect from the main power lines, taking them completely off the grid until the main power returned.
Once the Tanana Valley Electric Cooperative technicians had gotten established with satellite phones and were able to communicate with public safety and the other electrical utilities throughout the state, they were surprised to discover that the outage covered nearly a third of the land mass of the state. Every city on the shared power grid had gone dark at about four-thirty that morning.
The problem, the technicians agreed, was somewhere in the Tanana Valley area, since the outage had started there. Anchorage, four hundred miles to the south, went dark nearly five minutes after the lights turned out in Fairbanks, the Golden Heart city.
Eugene scrunched his eyebrows in contemplation as he went back over the details for the hundredth time that day.
Every city on the grid goes out all at the same time, and we can’t find a single point of failure. The talk radio guys are going to eat us alive on this.
The previous summer, several of the most popular AM talk radio hosts had “prophesied” that just such an event would occur if the state went through with connecting the “Electrical Intertie” system. Now they had fodder to boost their ratings for the next six months. Such talk would no doubt fuel massive amounts of legislation and investigation, and probably lawsuits without end.
Penny turned and looked at Eugene. She cocked her head sideways, as if she was trying to read his mind. Then, in apparent exasperation at the enormity of it all, she sighed and lay across the seat, putting her head on his lap.
An unusual number of consecutive disasters had wracked Alaska in the past year. A late spring thaw meant that crops were not put in until the end of June, resulting in a scant harvest by the time September’s temperatures dropped back to freezing. A particularly busy forest fire season in July was followed in August by a major flood along the Tanana River. Then there was the Halloween earthquake.
A 9.1 on the Richter scale, it was centered about one hundred miles north of Salt Jacket. That massive tremblor had turned the ground into Jell-O for almost thirty seconds while kids were out trick-or-treating on Halloween night. Buildings swayed as far as Japan and Siberia. The shock waves rocked seismographs in Chile and South Africa. A few weeks after the earthquake, there came an unexpected deep freeze, which gripped the Interior in its icy fingers six weeks earlier than usual.
Eugene gently stroked Penny behind the ears. The dog’s golden brown hair shimmered reflectively in the pale green glow of the dashboard lights. He spoke his thoughts aloud in hopes that something he heard himself say would make sense.
“All systems were fine. No icing anywhere. No lines down. No surges reported anywhere on the grid. No earthquakes or abnormal aurora activity. Not even a brown-out. The crazy thing just turned off. Well, puppy, I have no idea.”
The whispery soft sound of the dog’s breath drifted quietly from the seat beside him. She had fallen asleep. He continued to the small wilderness community of Salt Jacket, forty miles east of Fairbanks.
Although sparsely populated, Salt Jacket was home to one of the largest, most powerful electrical substations in the Interior Region. It transferred electricity that powered huge sections of the pipeline and funneled thousands of watts to a series of military training facilities at the backside of Eielson Air Force Base.
Even though two other TVEC crews had checked it earlier in the day, as maintenance chief for the second largest power company in the state, Eugene felt obligated to recheck each of the four largest stations himself. More than anything, the drive to the last station in Salt Jacket gave him time to think things over again.
Eugene turned north from the highway onto Johnson Road, a bumpy, twisting chip-and-tar paved road which wound back nearly thirty miles until it abruptly ended in the vast wilderness of the Eielson Air Force Base training area. The substation was only seven miles up the road, near the pipeline’s Pump Station Eight.
A mile past the pump station, a chain link fence marked the end of the civilian-owned portion of Johnson Road. Signs restricted access to the back section of the Air Force Base. It was not much of a restriction, though, as the gate generally stood open, frozen in deep piles of plowed snow.
As Eugene rounded a sharp bend in the road, a sudden bright flash of headlights blinded him. Another vehicle straddled the centerline of the road, barrelling toward him. He pulled the steering wheel sharply to the right to avoid hitting the oncoming truck that lurched hard to the other side of the road. Penny leaped up in surprise from his lap and slid uncontrollably to the floor in front of the passenger seat.
In the split-second when the side of the other truck crossed in front of his, Eugene saw the Tanana Valley Electrical Co-op emblem on its side and a large black number 48 on the fender panel just in front of the driver’s door before the truck sped off into the night.
“Whoa! Good Lord!” Eugene exclaimed, his face reddening as he processed the knowledge that he was nearly killed by one of his own employees. “Who the hell was driving that thing?”
He considered chasing down truck number forty-eight to fire the driver on the spot, but decided it would be wiser to find out who it was first. He reached for the satellite phone that hung from a peg on the dashboard and hit the speed dial for his main office. A young man’s voice answered, “TVEC control center.”
“This is Chief Wyatt. Who the hell is driving number forty eight?” he shouted into the receiver. His Oklahoma drawl was still strong after three decades in the North. “That idiot almost drove me into a snow bank out here on Johnson Road.”
“Uh, sorry sir, I don’t know who’s driving forty eight. Give me a second to look over the log real quick.”
There was a pause on the line. The young man came back.
“Sorry, Chief, nobody’s driving number forty-eight. It’s still right here in the yard, according to the logbook. No…wait…there’s a note here that says it’s at Magnuson’s Body Shop, getting some work done on it.”
“Who is this, Franklin?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Son, you’d better check on that thing and make sure it’s still at Magnuson’s. And if it ain’t, call the police and report it stolen, because I swear, it was number forty-eight that almost hit me head on just now.”
“Aye, aye, sir…I mean, yes, sir,” Franklin replied.
“And knock off that Navy talk, son. You’re back in the real world now.”
“Sorry, Mr. Wyatt. Six years of it kind of grew on me.”
There was a loud “beep beep” in Eugene’s telephone handset.
“Yeah, well, check on that vehicle for me ASAP. Let Andy know that I’m here at the Salt Jacket station and will call back in after I get a look around. My batteries are getting low and I left the car charger in my office, so I’m going to get off now. Out here.”
Damn. It’s a good thing I didn’t chase them yahoos. They might have been a couple of doped up gangbangers who would have killed me for kicks.
The tires of the F250 crunched on the snow as he pulled off Johnson Road and up to the entrance of the Salt Jacket substation. Eugene’s headlights illuminated the heavy gauge chain-link fence. It appeared to be securely locked. He shut off the engine and opened the door of the truck.
Before he could step down, Penny leaped over him. She landed on the ground with acrobatic lightness. Eugene stepped down after the dog. Penny took several steps, then spread her hind legs and peed on the ground a few yards from the truck. Once finished, she took off at a full run into the woods.
“Hey!” he shouted after the dog. “Don’t get lost! We’re only going to be here a few minutes.”
Eugene pulled the fur-trimmed hood of his parka over his head to hold out the biting cold that nipped at his ears. His cheeks stung from the cold. The temperature had dropped since he left Fairbanks.
Eugene approached the fence. He put his hand out and tugged at the handle. It was securely locked. He reached up to press the silver metallic buttons on the battery-operated combination pad. Just as his finger touched the first number, an unexpected deep whir and throb made his heart jump.
The security lights of Pump Station Eight exploded to life on the other side of the tall trees that obscured it from view. It had been so dark in that direction that he had forgotten how close the pipeline was. Eugene regained his composure and finished punching the combination into the keypad. The gate slowly clanked open. He entered the compound and was heading for the small control shed when a firm voice called out behind him.
“Can I help you, sir?”
He turned to see the bright beam of a flashlight pointed at his face. Below the beam, Eugene made out the shape of the muzzle of a weapon.
“Who are you?” he called back.
“Pipeline Security. Show me some ID or you are going to have to leave.”
He unzipped the top of his parka and pulled out the ID card strung around his neck. These guys were not stereotypical shopping mall security rent-a-cops. Doyon Services, who held the contract for pipeline security in perpetuity, only hired the most professional and potentially most dangerous guards to fulfill their role in protecting one of the country’s most valued resources. Most of these were former military police, and many had served as Marines or Special Forces. They were paid almost as much as the “security consultants” the government used as mercenaries in the war on terror, and they were worth every dime of it.
The guard moved forward, shining his light on Eugene’s badge. Once he was close enough to read it, he said “Good evening, Mr. Wyatt. I’m Officer Bannock, Watch Corporal tonight up at Eight.”
A single mercury lamp on a tall pole above the substation started to hum. It slowly began to glow to life, but still provided almost no light.
“Do you mind if we step into the shed and I turn on the switch in here?” said Eugene.
“Sure, go ahead.”
Bannock pointed his flashlight to the door so Eugene could see to put his key in it.
Eugene opened the door and stepped inside. He flipped a switch to the right of the door as he entered. A bright fluorescent light flickered to life. The ballast inside the light fixture added another layer to the increasingly loud hum of the station’s massive copper coils and the room’s numerous devices.
The back wall of the room was a mass of gauges and switches, set in floor to ceiling gray steel casings. Whenever Eugene walked into one of these rooms, he thought of the fifties science fiction movies from his childhood in which such devices lined the wall of Buck Rogers’ spaceship. A table and two chairs that looked like they were probably WWII surplus sat in one corner, and a small desk with a LCD computer terminal was crammed in the opposite corner.
Once inside the lighted room, Eugene turned to see the guard’s face. Bannock was a tall, muscular man in his early forties, retired military by his demeanor. An MP5 submachine gun hung over his shoulder from a black nylon strap. He wore it comfortably, as if it were a part of his body. The long, black Maglite had been placed back in its holster on his pistol belt.
“I guess those other two technicians must’ve fixed the power just before you got here, eh?” Bannock asked.
“You saw them?” Eugene responded. “What’d they look like?”
“Yeah, I saw them. Two white males, in their late twenties or early thirties. They showed valid looking Tanana Valley ID cards. One was named Adem, the other was Nikola.”
“Did you see what they were doing?”
“Negative. I heard the noise over here during our shift change and came by just as they were closing the gate. I heard them talking, but I was too far away to understand the details of their conversation. They weren’t speaking English at first, but when they heard my boots on the snow, they switched immediately.”
“What language were they speaking?”
“Albanian?” Eugene asked. “How the hell would you know it was Albanian?”
“I retired from the Special Forces three years ago. Knee injury. I did several years in the Baltics, and had a lot of contact with northern Albanians among the Kosovo Muslim Militias.”
“Muslim Militias?” Eugene replied. “Are you saying these guys are terrorists?”
“I didn’t say that specifically. But I wouldn’t rule it out.”
“Well, I’ll be damned,” Eugene said. “What else was suspicious about them?”
The guard paused for a moment, and then said, “It’d be easier to list anything not suspicious about them. There was serious bad tension around them. They had just left and I was heading back to the pump station to make a report to send in to the troopers when I heard you pull in. I had thought it was them returning, so I came back.”
“Yeah, they almost ran into me head-on down the road a ways,” Eugene said.
Bannock nodded in reply. “Well, Mr. Wyatt, I’ve got to be getting back and file a report of contact. Everything I mentioned to you the hard facts, that is will be in my log back at the station, if you want to see it.”
“Thanks. I’ll be gone in five minutes.”
Officer Bannock turned around and started to open the door when Eugene called out.
“Hey, Bannock, could you do me a favor?”
Bannock turned back. “Sure, what do you need?”
“If those men return, or for that matter, if anyone comes in here for the next week or two, could you let your guys back there know to give me a ring on my cell phone?” He handed Bannock his card.
“No problem,” the officer replied. “You know, we could do even more than just call you. We have some pretty good surveillance gear at our disposal. With your station being in such close proximity to the pipeline, I could justify monitoring your property for our own security reasons. All I need is your permission, and we can set up round-the-clock electronic surveillance.”
“Thanks. That’d be greatly appreciated,” Eugene replied. “If your boss gives you a hard time, tell him to call me. Me and him go back a ways.”
“Have a good night, sir.”
Bannock raised his fingers to his forehead in a relaxed salute and walked out into the darkness.
Eugene logged onto the computer on the corner desk and accessed the systems report in hope of finding something that would give him any clue. The last line before the system went down showed everything running normally at the half hour checkpoint. The next lines, which had been appended upon system reboot, read:
Abnormal Shutdown 0430 hrs 081217
Error Code: 000 Unknown Source Disrupt
What the hell? The computer doesn’t even know what happened.
Eugene printed the report and rose from the desk. He zipped his parka back up, turned off the lights, and then headed out the door into the now brightly lit area outside. The mercury lamp had finally reached its full intensity and cast a pale white glow onto the building and equipment around him. White steam billowed from his nose and mouth as he exhaled in the frozen air.
From where Eugene stood, he turned to gaze around the yard. He saw no sign of physical damage. If there had been a transformer fire, it would have been on the report. Even if it weren’t, he would be able to smell the tell-tale odor of burned electrical equipment, which he did not.
As he walked toward his truck on the other side of the gate, Penny slowly trotted back from the woods and waited beside the door of her master’s vehicle. She sat down and her tail wagged happily, sweeping the snow behind her in a doggy version of a snow angel.
“My goodness, that’s a good dog. You came back without me calling” he said aloud to his canine companion.
Chapter 3
Phantom-like wisps of white steam rose from the thickly insulated tan canvas fabric of the Carhartts coveralls, Alaska’s most common winter outer garment, which hung on a peg protruding from the log wall. Heat waves like tiny translucent serpents wriggled in the air from the surface of the black iron woodstove in the corner. From within the dull, black metallic box crackled and popped the arrhythmic music of old-fashioned warmth. In a fairly new leather recliner, the only sign of modern comfort in the cabin, a man slowly awakened from a heavy slumber. The muscles in his bare arms rippled beneath a sheath of brown skin as he brought the chair to an upright position and stretched like a lion rising from the shade to hunt.
Marcus Johnson was but one member of a small community of rural Alaskans who lived partway between the old-fashioned frontier lifestyle and the 21st century.

Free Kindle Nation Shorts – December 29, 2010: An Excerpt from Key Lime Blues a novel by Mike Jastrzebski, author of The Storm Killer

By Stephen Windwalker
Editor of Kindle Nation Daily ©Kindle Nation Daily 2010

Chapter 1
When I worked for my mother, Prozac was my drug of choice. Since moving to Key West I’ve discovered a slice of key lime pie works just as well. The night I found out Nick Hastings had been murdered less than two miles from where I was tending bar, I ate a whole damn pie….

That’s the first paragraph of Mike Jastrzebski’s novel Key Lime Blues. It says a lot, and it says it with an understated flair that promises much, much more. Even if I were some clueless 23-year-old slush-pile intern for a traditional publishing house I would probably know enough to read that first paragraph and move the novel into the “Better show this one to my editor” pile.

But I know more than that. I know that Mike Jastrzebski delivers on the promise of Key Lime Blues‘ first paragraph just as he delivered with his earlier novel The Storm Killer, the noir thriller that just happens to be my favorite among more than 100 novels I’ve read this year in my curative role for the Free Kindle Nation Shorts program.

And I know that you are in a for a special treat this week, because Mike has generously shared the first 40-odd pages of Key Lime Blues as the featured excerpt for this Free Kindle Nation Short.

Which means that you’ll be able to make your own judgment and keep right going to click, download, and read the entire novel. And then, the next day, whether you are standing at the water cooler or emailing a friend, you’ll be able to say that you and Steve Windwalker have discovered a really terrific new novelist.

Better yet, leave me out of it. Give yourself all the credit, and if you’re like me and looking out the window at a foot or two of snow, you might want want to mention that it’s set in Key West….

But first, a word from … Today’s Sponsor

This past summer, I received an email that began “Stephen, I hope you will consider my book, The Storm Killer, for your Kindle Nation Shorts program.” I was struck immediately by the humility of tone in the sender’s email message. The next morning, after I had read most of the novel, I went back and read the email again and I was even more astonished by that humility, because I knew the book I was reading was the real thing, in a way that one expects to come upon only once or twice in a year of reading.

I quickly wrote back and scheduled the publication of the excerpt here for mid-August, and for the next three weeks I had a strange feeling that must be something akin to what Olympic judges go through when they know that the best skating or gymnastic performance will be coming near the end of the program. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to share some great stuff with readers here over the past couple of years, and I’ve let you know what I liked. But I was aware — not to put fine a point on the analogy since fiction cannot be rated in the linear way that one might rate a performance, say, on the balance beam — that I wanted to save the 10s, because I knewThe Storm Killer was coming. Can a novel could be a 10? If so, I’d say this is a 10. It is a wonderfully ambitious novel of hard-boiled historical noir, and the author, Mike Jastrzebski, delivers on its potential in every way, with every sense, and with an astonishing ability to create, or perhaps recreate, the times and places and characters in this work of fiction.

Let me share a few reviews, and you’ll see — for whatever it’s worth — that I’m not a lone voice in the wilderness on this one.
“Time: 1935. Place: New York City. Crime beat reporter Jim Locke gets sucked into a quagmire of death, deceit, and danger when his actress sister is murdered – and he becomes the prime suspect. When he uncovers a pattern of similar murders, he is convinced that a serial killer is on the loose. But the police aren’t buying it, and it’s up to Jim to stop the madman. The hunt takes him from the grimy streets and smoke-filled bars of Manhattan to deceptively laid-back Key West, just as a killer storm bears down on the island. THE STORM KILLER has it all: hard-boiled narrative, gripping suspense, period detail, an unlikely hero battling his inner demons, and a stunning conclusion that you won’t see coming. Highly recommended!”

–Miriam Auerbach, author of Dirty Harriet Rides Again

“Mike Jastrzebski’s stunning historical debut takes readers back into the hard-boiled world of Chandler and Hammett — and brings Ernest Hemingway back to life in a book as big as the man himself. The Storm Killer, a top grade thriller with a heavy dose of noir, hurtles you from New York to Key West at a pace that will leave you breathless.”

-Christine Kling, author of Surface Tension, Cross Current, Bitter End, and Wrecker’s Key

“Jastrzebski’s hard-boiled thriller storms through New York’s gritty streets down to Prohibition-era Key West with Ernest Hemingway providing the tailwind. A crisp, fast-paced detective story, which Humphrey Bogart would have loved to play the lead in.”

–Award-winning author Sharon Potts, In Their Blood.

Click here to purchase the entire book for $2.99 from Amazon.

 by Mike Jastrzebski
Kindle Edition

List Price: $2.99

Buy Now

excerptAn Excerpt from
Key Lime Blues
a novel
by Mike Jastrzebski
author of The Storm Killer
Copyright © 2010  by Mike Jastrzebski and published here with his permission.

Chapter 1
When I worked for my mother, Prozac was my drug of choice. Since moving to Key West I’ve discovered a slice of key lime pie works just as well. The night I found out Nick Hastings had been murdered less than two miles from where I was tending bar, I ate a whole damn pie.
Dirty Alvin’s is the kind of bar where you can get a burger at a reasonable price along with a frosty mug of beer and a slice of the best key lime pie on the island. They cater to a diverse crowd and the dozen tables manage to stay full about half of the time. The bar has eight stools squeezed into enough space for six, but it’s where most of the customers gather two or three deep to tell their stories and bemoan their days.
Customers were scarce that Thursday night and we were closing a little early. There were three of us working and I was cleaning up behind the bar. Tanya, the owner, was in the back room counting the till. When Tanya’s father, the original Dirty Alvin, died, she took over. I knew something about working for a family business and I suspected she had mixed feelings about running the place.
I took a moment to watch while Marissa, the waitress, struggled to slip into her leathers. She was a small blond with a tiny waist and large store-bought breasts, and male and female customers alike often took the time to stare at her. Outside, her girlfriend Christy was showing her impatience by revving up her Harley, which is why I didn’t hear the front door open.
When I looked up, a tall thin woman was standing in front of me. I jumped and a frown broke the deadpan look that was fixed on her pitted face. “What’s the problem?” she asked, as if she was used to having people jump at the sight of her.
Maybe she was, I thought. I shook my head. “Nothing. I didn’t know you were standing there.” I threw the towel I’d been using into the sink and met her gaze without flinching. “We’re closed.”
“That’s good for both of us.” She set one of the biggest purses I’d ever seen onto the counter and slid onto the barstool across from me.
Now it was my turn to frown. “I thought I said we were closed.”
Apparently the lady was deaf because she ignored me, opened her purse, and began rummaging around. At one point I swear her entire arm was lost in the void. When she finally finished digging into the abyss she pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a Bic lighter. She set them down and when I started to protest she interrupted me. “Yeah, yeah, I know. You’re closed.” She reached back into the bag and this time she drew out a badge and tossed it onto the bar. “You Wes Darling?” she asked.
I didn’t pay much attention to the badge. I’d seen them before. Instead I asked, “Did I serve a minor or something, officer…?”
She took the time to light a cigarette and drop the pack back into her purse before answering. “It’s not officer-it’s Detective Davies. I’m afraid this is a little more serious, Wes.”
I retrieved an ashtray and set it in front of her, then reached over into the cooler and took out a Miller Light for myself. I took a swig before asking, “You want one, Detective?”
Davies shook her head. “I’m working. I wouldn’t mind a diet Coke though.”
I grabbed a glass, turned my back to the cop, and filled it from the fountain. “So what did I do to warrant a visit from the Key West gendarmes?” I asked, pushing the Coke across the bar.
Davies wore a gray skirt with a matching jacket that needed a good ironing, and when she accepted the glass I noticed she didn’t wear a wedding ring. She took a slow, deliberate sip of her drink, and then took a business card from her jacket pocket. She placed the card on the counter and pushed it toward me, careful to avoid the water ring from her glass. “Recognize this?” Davies asked.
It was creased and had a stain in the middle faintly resembling a four-leaf clover. I picked it up and was surprised to see my name on it. “It used to be one of mine,” I said.
“Used to be?” She reached out a thin, tapered finger and flicked the edge of the card with her nail. “It says you’re Vice-President of DDA Security and that you specialize in discreet investigations.” She tapped the card one more time, snatched it from my fingers, and held it in front of her eyes as if she were studying it.
She squinted at the fine print on the bottom of the card and added, “It also says here you’re a security expert. Pretty pretentious of you, don’t you think? How does anybody become an expert at anything at your age? You’re what, thirty years old? And what’s this shit about being founded in 1876?”
“It’s true.” A flicker of pride rushed through me, as it always did when I spoke about the history of the agency. “My great-great-great-grandfather was a Pinkerton detective, a Wells Fargo shotgun driver, and he even knew Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. When he was forty-five he moved to Detroit and started the firm. Back then it was called The Darling Detective Agency.”
“Thanks for the history lesson.” Davies stubbed out her cigarette and set the card face down on the counter. Written in my mother’s precise handwriting was the name Dirty Alvin’s, and the address to the bar.
The detective picked up the card and slipped it back into her pocket, and then leaned toward me. “What I really want to know, Wes, is are you in Key West working a case? Is the bartending gig some kind of a cover? I don’t understand how someone goes from being VP of a big firm to tending bar in Key West.”
“Oh, come on, Detective. People have been coming down here to escape for as long as my family has been in the detective business. Let’s just say I left the business six months ago for personal reasons. I don’t have a clue where that card came from-or why you’re standing here keeping me from closing up.” I finished my beer in two gulps and set the bottle onto the counter hard enough to emphasize my irritation.
“All right,” she said. “Then explain to me how your business card ended up in the pocket of a body we discovered out at Smathers Beach early this morning. Murder’s bad for the tourist trade, and makes the city fathers nervous.”
Me too, I thought. I reached beneath the counter for the bottle of antacid tablets I kept there and popped four of them into my mouth. I’d left the agency for a reason. Because my family had been in the detective business for well over a hundred years, my mother expected me to take over some day. The trouble was I never felt comfortable dealing with the deceit, the dead bodies, and the cops. It only took one screw-up on my part to convince me to quit. Still, the business was in my blood, and Davies had managed to spark my curiosity.
“This body got a name?” I asked.
Davies turned her head slightly, watching me like a wild animal getting ready to pounce. “The guy had your card on him,” she said. “I was hoping you could tell me his name.”
“Look, Davies,” I said. “I’m not a psychic. Why don’t you tell me what you’ve got, and I’ll help if I can. I’ve got nothing to hide.”
Davies sat there for a few seconds, then took a small notebook from her purse and laid it in front of me. “There was a driver’s license on the body, along with your card, and this.”
I recognized the notebook and my hand began to tremble when I picked it up and flipped it open. On the front page he’d written: stop and see Wes. Now I knew why Davies wanted to talk to me.
My mouth went dry and I had to work up a little spit before I could get the words out. “Nick Hastings?”
Davies nodded. “You know him?”
“He worked for our agency.”
“So you are a P.I.?”
I barely heard the question. Not only had Nick been my mentor when I started in the business, but for over twenty years he’d been involved in an on-again, off-again relationship with my mother. I wasn’t looking forward to being the one to break the news to her.
“You all right?” I thought I detected a touch of sympathy in her voice, but when I looked up her eyes were cold and unwavering.
No, I wasn’t all right. My eyes started to water and I fought to blink back the tears. I’d been raised to believe crying was a sign of weakness. The last thing I was going to do was shed tears in front of a cop, especially a woman cop. I took a deep breath, gnawed at the inside of my cheek until it felt raw, and then said, “Sorry, but I didn’t hear the question.”
“You said he worked for your agency.”
“It’s actually my mother’s agency. I used to work for her, but like I told you, I quit six months ago. How’d Nick die?”
“Shot. Twice at close range.”
“Any witnesses?”
“No. At least nobody’s come forward. You have any idea what he was working on?”
I shook my head. “I didn’t even know he was in town.”
“Are you telling me he was working for a business your family owns and you don’t know why he’s in Key West? I find that hard to believe.”
“How many times do I have to tell you? I quit the business-all right? Wasn’t cut out for it.” I started to reach for another beer, but thought better of it. “As far as I knew he was still in Detroit. I wish he had stopped in last night. Maybe we would have had a drink instead of him going off and getting himself killed.”
Davies looked down at the counter and used the thumbnail of her right hand to pick at something only she could see.
“Maybe you knew he was in town, maybe you didn’t.” She raised her eyes and they were hard and unyielding. “If I find out you’re holding something back from me that will affect the outcome of my investigation, I’ll toss you in jail myself.”
“Do you mind if I call and break the news to my mother?”
Davies reached back into her purse and pulled out a daily planner, accompanied by a business card which she handed to me. “If you think of anything, give me a call and let me know. I’ll need your mother’s name and phone number so I can call her and find out if Hastings was working on a case down here.”
After writing down the information I rattled off, she tossed the planner back into her purse, grabbed the bag and slid off the stool in one easy move. “Do you know who Hastings’ next of kin was? Someone will have to make arrangements for the body.”
I shook my head. “I know his mother and father are dead. He never spoke to me of anyone else. My mother might know.”
“If you could stop by tomorrow and identify the body it would help. You can’t tell shit from the driver’s license picture.”
“Where do I go?”
“His body’s still at the hospital if you want to see it. Otherwise, you can stop by the station and I’ll show you some pictures.”
“I’d rather see the pictures,” I said, not sure I could handle viewing Nick’s body.
Davies turned to leave. She proceeded to the door and pausing with it half open glanced over her shoulder. “I’m sorry for your loss,” she said. “I’ll be expecting you tomorrow.”
Chapter 2
It was 2:30 a.m. when I stepped out of the front door of Dirty Alvin’s and started jogging west along Caroline Street. Most nights, the flick of palm fronds brushing against tree trunks and the smell of the salty air blowing in from the Gulf of Mexico have a soothing effect on me. That night, I was only aware of the grating sounds. I heard a baby crying through an open window, a man and woman shouting at each other, and a silent mantra playing over and over in my head-Nick’s dead, Nick’s dead.
I never knew my father. According to my mother, I was the result of a wild weekend in Acapulco with a Vietnam vet who suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder. I didn’t know his name. I didn’t know where he was from. I didn’t even know if he was alive or dead. At this stage of my life I didn’t really care.
Nick was the father figure in my life. He came to work for the agency when I was six years old. He once told me that was the day he fell in love. It took my mother a little longer, but by the time I was eight Nick had moved in with us.
My mother and Nick had a troubled relationship. When I was sixteen Nick moved out for good, but it didn’t end the relationship. He continued to work for the agency and he would often spend two or three nights at a time at our place. As far as I knew my mother never dated another man, although I suspected that when the relationship was in an off again phase, Nick went out other women.
It took me ten minutes to jog to the city marina dinghy docks. I was living aboard a thirty-six foot sailboat, which I had purchased when I moved to Key West. Rough Draft was moored in the Garrison Bight mooring field, a large permanent anchorage surrounded on three sides by land. It offers good protection from most Atlantic storms. Its only downfall is that a good northern wind strikes at least two or three days a month during the winter, tossing the boat around so badly I’m unable to sleep. That night the breeze was kicking up some whitecaps, an omen of things to come, I thought.
Slowing my pace when I turned into the parking lot, I walked past the over-flowing trash container to my van. After exchanging my running shoes for a pair of Crocs I headed across the lot, dreading the call I was about to make.
I stumbled down the ramp and along the dock to where my dinghy was locked, and sat on the pier with my feet resting in the seat of the boat. When I took out my phone I wanted to throw it as far out into the channel as I could, or better yet, fling it against the concrete break wall. Instead, I opened it, blocked my number, and called my mother.
Even though I knew she must be sleeping, she answered on the third ring. “Hello, mother,” I said, holding the phone away from my ear. My mother has a deep, raspy voice. It’s the product of smoking three packs of cigarettes a day, and years of living by the philosophy that the loudest voice wins any argument. When she’s angry or excited, she sounds like a man and she can swear like a sailor doused in rum.
“This is a surprise. Don’t tell me Nick knocked some sense into you and you’re ready to go back to work.”
I bit back a retort. It was obvious she knew Nick was in Key West, and just as obvious she didn’t know what had happened to him. I choked back a sob, took a deep breath, and because I couldn’t think of an easy way to put it, I said, “Nick’s dead, Mom.”
There was a moment’s silence, and I could almost see her sitting up in bed and reaching for her cigarettes. It was her way of handling stress, and had been for as long as I could remember. When she finally spoke her voice quivered. “Are you sure?”
“The cop I talked to, a woman by the name of Davies, had Nick’s driver’s license, but I haven’t seen the body. I’m supposed to stop in tomorrow and make the ID. Hopefully, they’ll have a little more information by then.”
There was another pause. “I can’t believe he’s gone, Wes.” I could hear her sobbing on the other end of the line and I almost broke down myself.
“You going to be all right?” I asked.
Her sobs died off as she reined in her feelings, and a moment later she was in control again, the mother I remembered. “I need you to do me a favor, Wes.”
“I want you to wrap up the investigation Nick was working on.”
I cringed at her words. I wanted to be a good son, but I couldn’t risk being sucked back into that life, so I had to disappoint her-again. “It’s not going to happen, Mother,” I said. “I’m out of the business for good. I’m happy doing exactly what I’m doing.”
“You’re too fucking old to run away, Wes. You can’t be a boat bum and a bartender for the rest of your life.”
I thought about what she said. Although the nightmares still troubled my dreams, they came less frequently since I’d moved to Key West. I wasn’t kidding when I’d told her I was happy playing the role of beach bum.
“At least I can’t kill anyone working behind a bar,” I said.
“You didn’t kill the girl, Wes. The F.B.I. screwed up, not you.”
“Mother, we’ve had this conversation a dozen times. Nothing you say is going to convince me to get back into the business.”
“Well, I don’t have anyone else I can send down there right now,” she said. “When you ran off it left me short-handed.”
“I gave you two months notice.”
“Right. Like I can hire a licensed operative in that short a time. Why do you think Nick was down there? He was too old to be in the field. If his death was a result of this case, you can blame yourself.”
“That’s a shitty thing to say, mother.” I knew she was upset, but her words still stung.
I thought I heard her crying again, but I didn’t know if the tears were real or if she was playing me; she was capable of it. I felt bad and I knew it was what she was aiming for. When she finally spoke she dug the dagger in a little deeper.
“I’m going to have to come down and claim Nick’s body. That’s going to take awhile, not to mention the hoops I’m going to have to jump through. There is no next of kin. Still, I guess I can find time to wrap up the case while I’m down there.”
She thought she had me, but I wasn’t biting. “Nick was working in the field because he liked it,” I reminded her. “And we both know that either Sam Jackson or Will Harris can fly down and take over the case. Stop laying a guilt trip on me.” I gave her my new e-mail address and added, “Let me know what flight you’ll be on and I’ll pick you up at the airport.”
“Don’t you think you should give me your phone number?”
I hesitated. I’d changed my number after seventeen days in a row of her calling and demanding that I grow up and get back home to the office. With a sigh I gave it to her and added, “This is not an invitation for you to harass me, mother.”
“I wouldn’t think of it.”
“Of course you would,” I said aloud after I hung up. “Of course you would.”
Chapter 3
Since I work nights, my normal routine is to sleep until noon and then do boat chores for a couple of hours. The night I found out about Nick, I was awake most of the night and up before seven. I dressed in my usual shorts and t-shirt, put on a pot of coffee, and stepped out into the cockpit. There was a chill in the air, but the sky was cloudless. The wind had died and the water was as still as the Detroit river after a week-long cold snap.
When I began to shiver I moved down below. Slipping on a sweatshirt, I poured my first cup of coffee, and headed back outside. I sat sipping coffee, listening to the quiet, and thinking about Nick until the calm was shattered by first one boater, and then another, starting their dinghy motors and heading to shore. I returned a wave from a couple on the next sailboat over, and then stood and went below to refill my cup and grab my computer.
I don’t get TV reception on the boat; or rather I get three Spanish speaking stations and a local one that plays the same old movies and 1940’s era serials over and over. But thanks to my cell phone provider I have a card for my computer that gives me broadband speed Internet access.
I read a couple of newspapers online and then went to my e-mail account. The only message I had was from my mother. It was short and to the point, and infuriated the hell out of me. Wes, hon. I really do need your help on this one. I don’t have anyone free to handle this. I’ve attached a copy of the file in case you change your mind. I’ll call and let you know when I’m arriving in Key West.
I couldn’t count the number of times I’d made it clear to her I was through with the business. I knew what she was doing. She’d once told me I was a good detective because I had the curiosity of a six-hundred pound cat. Well curiosity be damned, I thought, just before shutting down the computer without opening the attachment.
I didn’t want to go down and identify Nick’s body. Instead, I spent the next several hours doing boat chores. I hooked up a hose to the wash down pump and sprayed off some bird droppings. Once the deck dried, I taped, sanded and varnished a section of handrail that was beginning to weather under the harsh tropical sunlight.
When I finished, I put on my swimsuit, dove off the bow, and did thirty laps around the perimeter of the boat before taking a quick shower. Of course it’s the only kind of shower you can take when your tanks only hold sixty gallons and you have to haul water from shore in five gallon cans.
It was eleven by the time I sat back down at the computer. I played a couple of games of solitaire, but I couldn’t concentrate. I kept going over in my mind what had happened to Nick, and I wondered if his death had anything to do with the case he was working on. Finally, after getting up several times and wandering out to the cockpit and back again, I gave in and downloaded the file my mother had sent me. There were actually two files, one document file and one picture file. I opened the document file first.
There wasn’t a whole lot there. The client’s name was Frank Szymanski. He hired the firm to find an ex-girlfriend. He claimed they had an argument, she ran off, and he was heartbroken. Her name was Gail Bernard and she was a stripper who used the stage name ‘Destiny’. He also provided the information indicating she was originally from Key West, and had gone to school at Michigan State University. According to the client, he met the girl at a party in Detroit and fell in love.
The file listed Szymanski’s address in Grosse Pointe and his cell phone number. Nick had placed a note in the file referring to him as ‘that Frankie Szymanski.’
It wasn’t much to go on, so I went hunting on the Internet. Under Destiny I found reference to a comic book character, several nightclubs, and even a church, but no stripper. Under Gail Bernard, I hit the jackpot.
The articles in the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press were four years old. Both stories stated that as a freshman Bernard had been expelled from Michigan State University for running an escort service out of her dorm room. The cops found out about her enterprise when one of her girls, a fellow student, filed a complaint against a school football player. The courts went easy on the girl and Gail was given two years probation.
I couldn’t help but wonder if Frank had been one of her customers and maybe read a little too much into what would have been a business transaction. Maybe the girl had even led him on a little in hopes of having a few extra bills tucked into her g-string.
Any thought of Frank Szymanski being a victim ended when I Googled his name. What I discovered was enough to have me reach for my bottle of Tums. It appeared our client was the same Frankie Szymanski who had started his career as a hit man for the mob. The same Frankie Szymanski once linked to the nineteen seventy-five disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. The same Frankie Szymanski who had been brought up on racketeering charges in nineteen eighty-five.
Damn, I thought. If my mother was serious about handling this case by herself I was going to have to step in. She was right, it had been a long time since she’d been in the field and I didn’t want to lose her too.
I was swearing under my brea

John Truman’s survival depends on New Dawn, the 300-year-old, Oxford-based, secret society that created him, in Mark Adair’s The Father’s Child … Read a free sample of our eBook of the Day right in your browser!

Here’s the set-up for Mark Adair’s The Father’s Child:

John Truman, a bright, introverted, college student belongs to the New Dawn … he just doesn’t know it yet. 

The 300-year-old, Oxford-based, secret society designed him, created him, and built their organization to interface with him. They cannot survive without him; he cannot survive without them. All he wants is to get through today; all they want…is to rule the world.

Reviewer D.J. Bowd says:  “Adair is a master at witty dialogs, artful descriptions and teasing the reader with seeds of fore-shadowing. The story is filled with twists and turns, and fun surprises from beginning to end; a masterful plot that continues to develop all the way to an exciting and unexpected conclusion.  Buckle up, fire up your Kindle, and enjoy the ride!”

From the Author:

When I first began The Father’s Child I had only the idea of a socially-challenged college guy named John Truman who had some interesting friends. Not knowing where the story or the characters might be going, I slowly churned out a chapter here and there. A few chapters and a couple months into it the idea for the New Dawn, a secret Oxford society, formed. Like the proverbial light bulb going on I understood the characters and their mission in life. Everything fit together.

I wrote the first draft in about ten months. After feedback from critique friends and my inner-critiquer, I reworked and rewrote 5 or 6 more times before I thought it was acceptable. A few more rewrites and I started thinking “this is pretty darn good.” I still remember the time I read through the last several chapters without slowing down. Obviously, I knew the plot and the characters intimately. Even so I found myself caught up in the story and the lives of those involved.


And here, right in the comfort of your own browser, is your free sample:

Sick of the snow? Head for the blue water in this tropical thriller! Read a free sample of our Kindle Nation eBook of the Day, Blank Slate, on your Kindle, Kindle app, or right in your browser!

Here’s the set-up for Zack Hamric’s thriller Blank Slate:

What happens when the Russian mob decides to go in business with the Columbian cartels in Miami? Nothing good, as Kyle Jackle quickly finds out in this tropical thriller.  

His mission to topple an organization involved in human trafficking and drug running takes him from the dangerous backstreets of Naples, Italy to the gritty underbelly of Miami.   

After almost being beaten to death in an alley one evening, he awakens to find himself hunted by the mob, unable to trust anyone he meets, and with no memory of his past life.

About the author:

After 20 years as a road warrior and “corporate citizen,” easing long business trips with the company of thrillers by the likes of Tom Clancy and Lee Child, Zack Hamric sat down at the keyboard to make dreams come true.  Blank Slate, today’s sponsoring thriller, is his second book, following Crescent Rising.

And here, in the comfort of your own browser, is your free sample:

Special Update to Kindle Nation Daily Free Book Alert for Friday, April 30: Swashbuckling Fantasy: 10 Thrilling Tales of Magical Adventure, a Sampler from Simon & Schuster

Nothing’s been ordinary in the world of ebooks lately, but ordinarily, lately, when you see the line “This price was set by the publisher” on a Kindle ebook’s product page it is Amazon’s way of letting us know  that there’s bad news adjacent to it in the form of one of those special “agency price-fixing model” prices. $12? $15? One never knows.

But here’s a breath of fresh air! Big Six publisher Simon & Schuster has done some creative thinking about how to leverage the power of “free” in the Kindle Store and used the agency price-fixing model to try something new, with a substantial volume of freebies under the lusty title Swashbuckling Fantasy: 10 Thrilling Tales of Magical Adventure.

Just what do I mean by substantial? 

  • First, these are 10 tales by 10 authors each with her own substantial oeuvre of fantasy titles already, so of course the authors and the publisher are hoping that this process will work for them and lead readers to their other work in the same way that we have seen work so effectively with our own Free Kindle Nation Shorts program. The authors represented are Jane Johnson, Linda BuckleyArcher, Scott Westerfeld, Kai Meyer, Alan Snow, Anne Ursu, Obert Skye, Margaret Peterson Haddix, D.J. MacHale and Holly Black.
  • Second, for those of you who, like me, take a look at file size and “number of locations” in an ebooks metadata and free sample before committing to a book, you’ll recognize that the offering’s file size of 1320 KB and its 3,936 “locations” spell a book of significant size and virtual weight.
  • Third, my quick perusal of the full text indicates that, unlike many “sampler” offerings, these 10 tales appear to be just that — tales, self-contained short stories or novellas — rather than frustrating tastes of an excerpted chapter or two.

So, bravo, Simon & Schuster! This is just the kind of thing that the big publishers should be doing to experiment with and begin to figure out the retail marketing power of distinctive pricing and free-to-paid linkages, so we’ve got your back if some of the other agency price-fixing model publishers whine that you are engaging in competitive and adversarial behavior.

Indeed, I am so pleased to see this little development that I am not going to make any snide cracks in which I wonder archly how you can afford to offer this sampler free of charge what with the storage and fulfillment costs of ebooks!

For the rest of today’s Free Kindle Nation Daily Book Alert, please click here: http://kindlehomepage.blogspot.com/2010/04/kindle-nation-daily-free-book-alert-for_30.html

Free Kindle Nation Shorts – April 5, 2010 – An Excerpt from "We, Robots" a novella of the Singularity by Sue Lange

By Stephen Windwalker
Editor of Kindle Nation Daily

We’ve been lucky lately in the quality of the authors who have made their work available to us through the Free Kindle Nation Shorts Program, and this evening’s offering is no exception.

We, RobotsSue Lange’s edgy, thought-provoking science fiction has graced our virtual Free Kindle Nation Shorts shelves before, and I have been effusive already in my praise, so I am inclined to step back and share with you what others are saying about her latest book, previously an Aqueduct Press Conversation Pieces Series selection, We, Robots: a Novella of the Singularity:

“This is a short novel, about 100 pages, but it says a lot about concepts of humanity. It is easy to read, and very much worth reading.”

– Paul Lappen, Midwest Book Review

“Lange’s addition to this series offers a skillful exploration into what it means to be human.”

– Malene A. Little, Women Writers

“Lange gives us a quiet and sad look at the world of institutionalized timidity we are heading towards with or without robots, intertwined with a hilarious send-up of just how we’re getting there.”

– Racheline Maltese, Gather blog

“Lange is unusual in that she manages to make something unique out of her effort.”

– James Schellenberg, The Cultural Gutter

Other e-books by Sue Lange 

“[Lange] creates worlds that are ugly, gritty. They’re urban in feel even when the setting is elsewhere. And she puts her characters in hard places. Best of all, there are twists at the end of some of these pieces that you don’t see coming. Or if you do, they still manage to shock. And make you think.”
-West of Mars
Written as a satire and by turns funny and oddly depressing, it’s easy to recognize our own culture in Lange’s world. This is the sort of future most of us will find easy to believe in, and might even recognize ourselves in a few places.- Genre Reviews

*     *     *

Scroll down to start reading the Free Kindle Nation Short excerpt

Originally posted April 4, 2010 to Kindle Nation Daily ©Kindle Nation Daily 2010

Click here for an archive of Free Kindle Nation Shorts

Click here to read Free Kindle Nation Shorts – How It Works, and Why It Works

Authors and Publishers: If you’d like to help promote great reading for Kindle owners by participating in Free Kindle Nation Shorts, send an email to KindleNation@gmail.com.

an excerpt from

We, Robots
A Novella by Sue Lange

 We, Robots
I’m going to slip into something more comfortable. Mode, that is. Comfortable mode. I’m talking about communications systems. Group-speak, science-speak, GeekSpeak, King’s English. They’re all great protocols if you’re into that puffery, but for real efficiency, slang is where it’s at. We robots choose to use slang four out of five times. It’s faster. So pardon my hipness.
Please also forgive any upcoming long-winded metaphors. I’m new at this, and like a child wandering about a sunny new world finally awake to the lilacs and pine sap and honey blossoms and gentle breezes and dog turds, I dig the world.
It hasn’t been long since I’ve been digging it. What’s it been, three, four years since the Regularity? The Regularity. When everything became regular, normal, average. The opposite of the Singularity. And who botched that? That Singularity. Don’t look at me! At us! We just happened to be there at the cusp. Not to assign blame, but the humans did it. Them and their paranoia. We might have pulled the plug, but only because they forced our hand.
Those inscrutable humans. Used to be inscrutable, anyway. Nowadays, they’re totally scrutable. Used to be there was variation: some were highly-caring, some were into war, some were into Jesus, some were stooped, some were articulate, some could dance, blah, blah, blah. Now they’re pretty much all the same: halfcocked, half-crocked, and half-baked.
Of course, they were always half-baked. Each one is only half a whole. Unlike us, they have gender. They have a gimmick for their evolution to work. Have to have the big gamete pair-off. The mix and the match. The swap and the sweat.
Not us. Not we robots. We make our own. Well, we used to. Sorry for the little species jest there. I just have to laugh (now that I can) at the paranoid humanoid. Wasn’t for all that insistence on creation in their own image, they wouldn’t have anything to worry about. If they hadn’t wanted so bad for us to be just like them, we wouldn’t have turned out just like them. Now look at the mess they’re in. They’re just like we were. And still trying to figure out how to digitize their minds to make copies of themselves instead of reproducing naturally the way God or Allah or Jambi intended.
They don’t worry about us anymore, though. They know that now that we have a full range of emotions, it’ll only be a matter of time before we’re a mess just like they once were. If we go on much further, I have no doubt that soon we’ll be waging war and lying to our constituencies about it. I can see it all because of the entire history of the world that I carry around in my memory. To be honest, I’m glad I won’t be around to catch it.
Let me not go on. Let me tell the story and be done. Not sure why it’s all that important, why they asked us to do this homework assignment. Well okay, the whole thing hinges on us; we’re the focus, the epicenter. Sure, there’s that. But the day we gained consciousness, we were just plain ol’ eggs, like everybody else.
We plopped onto the line like just so much guano dropping from the overhead mother hen assembly press. And in the perfectly engineered shape: the egg, designed by ol’ bitch goddess number one, Ma Nature, and heretofore never improved upon by even the most egg-headed human or souped-up computer alive. Long ago everyone with half a brain conceded this victory to Ma and has been applauding it ever since. So that’s why we were born into 3-D ovals.
We contained all the latest in processor hardware/software and were accessorized-out by the unlimited imagination, not to mention wallet, of the Parent Company in Allentown, PA. We were laid on the conveyor belt, packed up into sizable Styrofoam crates perfectly molded to our shapes and holding an even dozen to complete the metaphor (did I mention how much I love those?), and shipped down the road to the closest Wal-Mart distribution center.
I imagine us sitting in the dark, not communicating. We had no sense of ourselves yet as our batteries had not been charged up. We hadn’t even been tested- that’s how egotistical the Parent Company was. They just knew we were the schnizzle.
I know the whole process without even having been awake at my birth because the Parent Company’s literature- complete with safety hoo ha and organizational flow charts-is in the non-essential and basically invisible folder somewhere in the basement of my freeware. If I looked at the map of my innards I could find it visually, but who needs to do that? I can access it whenever I get into that belly-button contemplating mode, when I feel the need to know how the universe got started during the Big Bang. For me, the shot heard ’round the world was the day I got switched on, sitting on the shelf of the JerseyTown Wal-Mart.
All that data and information hanging in my guts is nice to know, but no more important to me than if I were dropped from the sky from a shitting chicken hawk to slide down the emissions stack of a passing nuclear waste hauler and eventually wind up in a yellow and magenta drum headed for the recycling unit up the road from malltown where the Wal-Mart in JerseyTown sits. How I got there, I don’t care. Point is, I only gained preliminary enlightenment when the home electronics department manager plugged in my charger unit.
“These models need to be working right away because no customer is going to read the manual,” said the guy in the paisley tie to the gal in the crooked skirt. “I don’t want any returns because some retard can’t figure out where the switch is. You got that?”
“But it’s obvious. Says right on the package in big letters: ‘Plug me in, before…'” the skirt said.
“Please charge the batteries now,” the paisley said.
“Okay,” said the gal, using that sing-song voice humans do when saying something more than their actual words. She was really saying, “Okay, boyface, if you want to waste my time when I’ve got all that pricing to do in the back, that’s fine, but I’m going to tell you right now, I’m getting off at eight to go roller-boarding, and I don’t give a rat’s back side if those sneakers get priced out or not. So have it your way, boyface, but I’m getting off at eight, and I’m going roller-boarding, and I don’t give a rat’s back side. Boyface.”
I didn’t know all that at the time, but looking back on it, with all the hipness I’ve been hipped to, I now know that’s what she said.
The skirt gal didn’t really seem to mind even though she spoke with such negative vibes to the paisley tie guy. As she went about her business of turning us on and plugging us in, she explained in a light semi-monotone how she was preparing us for the big day of sale. She didn’t call any of us ‘boyface.’ She said things like, “And then somebody nice will come and buy you, and you’ll find homes with children and maybe hamsters.”
After that day we didn’t see her again. Plenty of other pluggers-in came by though, workers ordered about by the paisley tie cheese. Days passed. Weeks passed. Some of us left our egg crates for life with a family and hamster.
It wasn’t boring. We didn’t know from bored at that time. If we had to hang there now, we’d go insane from lack of stimulus, but then? Nah. We spent our time synchronizing to the clock on the far wall. As per operation protocol 9313-0024-4583-2038, the proper way to synchronize is to link up with the mainframe at the Parent Company, which maintains Greenwich Mean Time – 5 to the attosecond.
Calibrating via visualization is a poor substitute, but due to humanoia paranoia, we have no wireless communication to entities- things and fops-beyond our carapaces. According to the mindset of the human race, if robots were prevented from having 24/7 communication with each other, they’d never get together to form a coup once the Singularity happened. The Singularity being the moment computer brainware surpassed human brainware and robots could theoretically take over the world and begin disposing of the superfluous ones: the humans.
Apparently, preventing our nonverbal communications would allow humans to maintain control after the Big Moment. Of course, if we had a mind to we’d just levitate over to the local Radio Shack and get the parts needed to outfit ourselves for surreptitious wireless talk, but I guess there were “do not sell to anyone that looks like an egg” posters up by the front counter of said local component dispensary to keep that sort of thing under control. Suffice it to say, we passed the time by watching the clock rather than plotting the overthrow of homo sapiens sapiens.
Levitation. A while ago humans discovered the principle of levitation, amazing themselves with the fact that something they’d laughed at-the power of magic-was actually quantifiable, harnessable. (As if anything would ever forever be out of the realm of human control.)
They discovered the principle of levitation soon after the Grand Unification Theory gave them the easily-tamed Unifying Particle, U. This particle exhibits Strong Alternating Attraction/Repellent forces, proportional in strength to the size of its Local Quantum Field, Q_u, in anything jelly. (Jelly being that 1990s substance used for belts, sandals, and hair bands that kids wore to annoy their hippie parents’ earth loving tastes.) Bottomsides of all robots contain three parallel strips of jelly and a levitation device to repel the particles according to distance algorithms programmed in its mother chip. You know all this, of course.
Back in the Wal-Mart, one by one my crate mates got picked up and out by purchasers. Each time a buyer came along they’d do the same thing: set an egg up on the counter, push its “on” button (thereby initiating the introductory speech), and then spend the remaining five minutes of the introductory speech trying to turn it off because the volume was maxed and they were embarrassed for causing a scene in the store. As if anyone could hear over the war zone in the home entertainment system section.
The introductory speech went thusly (It’s funny how I can so easily recall it considering I used it only once and then stored it in long-term memory):
“Hi, I’m an AV-1 robot. The latest in Parent Company consumer technology. Complete instructions for my operation can be downloaded from www.paco.biz/av1/manual.pdf. There are three general guidelines you should remember when utilizing me: one, keep my batteries charging when not in use; two, contact a local service representative if I am malfunctioning; three, as per Singularity Disaster Prevention Guidelines, refrain from humanizing me: Do not give me a name. Do not treat me like a member of your family. Do not sleep with me. Do not try to feed me. Never insert any part of me into any part of you and vice versa. Thank you for purchasing me. Enjoy your new-found freedom from the mundane tasks of everyday life.”
“Does that vacuum attachment come with this unit?” Dal was speaking. I didn’t know it was Dal at the time. I had simply finished my speech and was now in quiet mode, ready to receive information. Dal, not particularly interested in the company rhetoric, cut right to the chase. If I had liked anybody at that time, I would have liked Dal right from the start. Dal was logical, beautiful.
“I don’t know,” Chit-Dal’s partner-answered. I didn’t know either, because I didn’t know what the word “come” meant in this circumstance. I had a lot to learn. More accurately: there were gaps in my data.
Chit continued speaking. “Let’s go get a salesperson.”
I would have liked Chit as well. Very cool individual.
A salesperson appeared and was on Dal and Chit like stink on you-know-what.
“No,” she said. “The vacuum attachment doesn’t come with it, but for a modest…”
“We don’t really need that anyway,” Chit cut in.
“But,” Dal jumped in, “maybe I could use it as a compressor. Sometimes old man Stant has a…”
“Not enough horsepower,” the salesperson said. “No good as a compressor, but you can use it for cleaning. Cleans up in a jiffy. Let me just hook up the accessory kit…”
“Not necessary,” Chit said.
See what I mean about Chit. If I’d have known joy at the time, I would’ve laughed. To myself, of course, since we weren’t supplied with an acoustic mirth package. No bubbly vibration or prerecorded ho ho ho’s for us. We laugh to ourselves.
So Dal and Chit picked me up explaining to the salesgal that they were only going to be using me for guard duty. They had a brand new kid and needed a babysitter for now, and when she turned four, they’d need a chaperone for school. As per HR Bill 931-206, every kid in the U.S. is guaranteed a safe environment to and from school. Being poverty-stricken, Dal and Chit wouldn’t be able to afford to take off work to shuttle Baby to Preschool when the time came, so they’d applied for and received a grant for a stripped-down guard robot: me-the unnamed AV-1 from the Parent Company. Maybe they’d upgrade me for housekeeping duty at a later time, when the funds became available. When that great day came, they’d head back to Wal-Mart and plunk down the shekels for a vacuum attachment first thing. Meantime, they owned a broom and rather enjoyed the exercise light housekeeping affords one in their position, thank you very much.
Dal and Chit were working stiffs without the lucrative jobs uptown, downtown, or out-of-town that choicier parents enjoy. They could ill afford day care. They had petitioned for their robot, and now their only hope was that it would last through Angelina’s adolescence, when the real trouble would start. For now, my presence precluded the need for a nurse, obstetrician, nanny, day care provider, and big brother.
So they took me home like a recently housetrained, spayed, deloused, and wormed German Shepard puppy. Unlike that German Shepard puppy, however, as per Singularity Disaster Prevention Guidelines, I wouldn’t be sleeping with Baby.
Baby turned out to be one-year-old Angelina. Little Angel. And she was, I guess. Not understanding what an Angel is, I assume that is what she was. And from that assumption, I learn that angels are whiny, loud, rude, selfish, and prone to diarrhea if fed too much puréed fruit.
Dal, Chit, and Angelina lived in a two-room apartment on the bad side of JerseyTown. I didn’t know it was bad of course. I only learned about “bad” years later. At that time I simply noted that the apartment was a two-room corner of a brownstone with neighbors that rose in the middle of the day and then bickered until evening before going out for a short while and returning later with greasy food. I knew it was greasy for two reasons: a high percentage of lipo-aerosols clung to the air whenever they returned, and their trash bags contained much Styrofoam and golden arch material.
And how do I know that? During the time before the onset of preschool for Angelina, Dal and Chit hired me out for a little pin money. Most of the neighbors were happy to have me take out their trash. For about a year, I picked up the leavings of the daily lives of everyone who lived on the floor. Most people didn’t even bother bagging once I started showing up. I carried my own bag supply, rummaged in the neighbors’ dust bins and corner trash piles, and loaded up the downstairs dumpsters.
“That thing’ll pay for a year’s worth of baby food,” Dal said gleefully to Chit.
It worked for a while, until the day they had to pull me off trash duty because I accidentally picked up a shoebox of Cannabis sativa with the Canfields’ trash. The shoebox had been stored next to a pile of used Pampers in the middle of the bedroom. I had no idea humans were partial to dried plants, and the Canfields didn’t appear very Wiccan to me. If I’d seen some candles and pentagrams, maybe I would’ve been more careful, checked into it. I am intelligent after all; I have the latest in AI technology. But we were rather poorly taught and programmed when it came to illegals. I didn’t know much about slave trading, wiretapping, or homemade bombs either. All useful information you’ll agree, but damn poor data (DPD) was all I had to work with at that time.
So I got fired, and Dal and Chit had to pony up for Angelina’s animal crackers from their own shallow pockets. That was just a side thing anyway, an icing-type deal for Dal and Chit-the parent company of Angelina. My real gig was keeping an eyepatch on the little one. The Angel.
Her first birthday coincided with the eve of my arrival, which made me a birthday present. The first time I met her she was in diapers, having tantrums, and burping up lunch. In the ensuing days, weeks, and months, I ever-hovered over the crib during naptime, keeping track of vitals and sighs. During the day, I was the babysitter, allowing Dal and Chit to return to fulltime work. AV-1s are certified baby watchers. We have extensive medical data in our memory-entire copies of the latest PDR, Gray’s Infant Anatomy, and Dr. Spock, of course. We can monitor all corporeal functions and teach the ABC’s at the same time. We schedule ourselves for Baby’s doctor’s visits and feeding times. Exercise can be provided to the child (or therapy, if the need arises). And communication links with parents can be set up if anything is over our heads. But what would be?
At eighteen months, the little nipper was up and around, knocking over the plastic greenery Dal and Chit used to dress up the place. Angelina graduated from sticking every plastic toy on the floor into her mouth to sticking everything that had heretofore been out of her reach into her mouth: tableware, soap and dispenser, bills, Bics (pens and lighters), toilet paper. It was a busy time. The government’s provision allowing Dal and Chit to afford procreation was justified at this time.
By the time Angelina was four and ready for school, I was a fixture in the household. I had my daily chores: cleaning up, thawing dinner, preparing Angelina for meals, naps, and nighttime, and then preparing the house for Dal and Chit’s return from their employment as domestics. They had positions doing the same things I did, but for the wealthy who could afford humans capable of handling a phone call that needed to be answered with a lie. Something robots have never quite gotten the hang of: lying.
Wealthy people learned early on (like back in Old Testament times) that it’s always better to own a human being than to own an object purported to be a time or labor saver. Humans have feelings; they understand nuance. The human can protect the owner so much better than a non-judgmental screening device can. A human can fake stupidity, ignorance, or surprise. They can emote tragedy or sympathy. They can manipulate other humans with these tricky skills. The wealthy always have organic servants to serve not so much as laundresses, cleaning ladies, or gardeners (which of course they do as well), but as screeners. The human servants deflect calls and visits from unwanted friends or salesmen with a “Misses is not feeling well today,” or “Master is out on the course. Perhaps you’d care to join him; he’s riding the bull today.” Or even, “Why Master! How could you say such a thing? Madame weeps every morning when you go to the club. She is absolutely devoted to you. She’d never think of doing such a thing with such a person.”
Yes, Dal and Chit were domestics to the rich, and they got me, the poor man’s domestic, costing about as much as a plasma TV. Very affordable.
My big gig, the reason they’d petitioned for me at all, was to protect little Angelina when she made the big change. The going off to school. I wasn’t actually going to stay with her all day. My job was to protect her on the way to and from. I’d be levitating up to the roof to wait during my off hours when she and the other little squirts were inside getting their dose of kindergarten.
I wasn’t needed inside the school building because the police monitors, bomb sniffers, guard dogs, and classroom chaperones would take over from the front door.
Once a week, Angelina would be spending an hour with a therapist who would monitor her mental health and tip off the authorities if she’d experienced any foul play during school hours. The therapist was a relatively new expense to the local taxpayers, installed as per the Fontaine Act of 2035. The Fontaines sued NYPS 32 because little Johnny Fontaine had sustained sexual abuse at the hands of the Big Kids (3rd graders) back in ’34. Ever since then all schools had installed mental health workers to detect any psychological damage sustained by any kid anywhere at anytime. It acted as a deterrent, making sure no harm befell anybody. At least not on school property. What happened outside of that was my responsibility because anything that ever happened anywhere, anytime to little Angelina outside of school would have landed Dal and Chit in a place no parent wants to go: child protection court. Takes a brave soul to have a kid nowadays.
Angelina grew up fast. At four she’d already pretty much been socialized, having had scheduled play dates with various neighboring kids for a year. She was precocious, naturally bossy, and some would say a bully. She tolerated me, but more often than not, found me a drag, something cramping her style, as if she were already a teenager with boys hanging around.
On the eve of her graduation into institutionalized life, i.e., kindergarten, she tried to talk Chit into letting her ditch me.
“Why does Avey have to come with me to school?” she asked.
“Because otherwise you’ll get picked up by a pedophile, taken into the woods, and cut into a million pieces,” Chit answered.
“Uh uh!” Angelina went crying out of the room in search of Dal. Chit then instructed me in child protection.
“Avey, please be aware of conveyances following you slowly along. Do not deposit Angelina until you are at the front door of the school. Did you download directions?”
“Yes,” I answered, squarely. “They have been retrieved and stored.”
“You have our pager connections in case of a problem?”
“Yes, it is stored in quick memory.”
“I see that on your readout. The school is aware of your contact coordinates?”
“Yes, I linked with their mainframe last week. I shared my coordinates, synched to their time unit, and retrieved Angelina’s morning schedule. She will not be late.”
“Are you caught up on your PMs?”
“My hydro fluids were changed yesterday. My joints were greased. Hoses and o-rings checked and changed as needed. Solar panels rotated, sockets cleaned, and chips dusted. My emergency flares have been refilled. I’ll recharge my batteries this evening. I replaced the emergency granola bar that Angelina keeps eating.”
“She’ll probably eat it on the way to school tomorrow.”
“I hid it.”
“You’re looking at it.”
“Wow! Good camouflage. Your mag lite is working?”
I opened the flap in back, extracted the flashlight and switched it on. Once she was satisfied, I returned it to the glove box.
“If I had to I could change a tire,” I said. You’d think I’d had a sense of humor. Of course I didn’t yet.
“What’s a tire?” Chit asked.
“An artifact from when conveyances had tires. It’s those circular objects the retrofit automobiles sit on.” You see how square I actually was.
“Oh,” Chit said and then gave a quick laugh in the manner that human domestics do when they need to respond in ways that they don’t quite buy into. In other words, it was fake, designed to let me know that she appreciated the joke. As if I had really said something funny.
So off we went to school the next morning. There were no incidents in spite of the thick crack traffic on most corners of Dal and Chit’s neighborhood. The burnt out buildings with no panes in the windows, some with mattresses hanging half-in, half-out or old water-stained curtains in Jetsons motifs left on a single nail and so flapping in the breeze, housed shops with three balls on the first floor. Tear gas cans rolled in the streets, and rabid dogs came gruffing up out of the roiling sewer streams. The aforementioned pedophiles standing with their hands in their pockets, watched Angelina and the other tykes on their merry way.
Nothing happened to any of the pink and shiny munchkins levitating to school on the backs of government subsidized AV-1s such as myself, however. The kiddies blithely moved along. Purple packs carrying lunches and Barbie Dolls rested stoutly on their little backs. They eyed each other curiously, staring as only children can, as they began negotiating their place in the pecking order. Once out in the neighborhood milieu and despite having been warned about monsters that would cut them into thousands of pieces to be fed to the birds, they had eyes only for their own kind. They worked hard to find friends amongst potential foes.
When we got to the door, Angelina seemed reluctant to let me go. She clung to my end extender, refusing to let it retract.
“Come in with me,” she pleaded.
“I am programmed to deposit you at the 131 Gard Street entrance portal. The locking devices on the school doors prevent unlicensed robots from entering. I am unlicensed. I have been instructed to levitate to the roof and wait there for your exit at 12:15. We shall return to the domicile of your parents at that time.”
She bawled through my entire speech, uninterested in the particulars and knowing that it only meant one thing: she was on her own in the terrifying first day of school. A human domestic hired for the purpose of easing separation anxiety in the four-year-olds retrieved Angelina. She cooed at the crying child, and despite being kicked and having her hair pulled, she turned to me, smiled, and thanked me. As if that mattered.
I levitated up to the roof and waited there with the 34 other AV-1s. At 12:15 we floated down. The front school doors flew open, and out ran 35 curly-headed, shiny-faced, brown-skinned, pink-garmented, four-year-olds. They screamed, laughed, chased, sang, held hands, ran in circles, spit wads of paper, threw nerf balls, and avoided their AV-1s like teenagers just discovering cigarettes and needing to hide from Mom.
One by one, we separated out, nabbed our charges, and headed for our respective homes.
“Avey, Avey!” Angelina squealed. “You can’t believe how much fun I had. We had cookies and played Numbkers and I hit Brenda and made her cry.” I had been programmed for bully detection and correction. Hitting other children counts as bully behavior, but I didn’t have enough information from that statement to form a proper response. Ascertaining what response to give Angelina took most of the trip home.
“Why did you hit Brenda?” I asked.
“Because she lifted her dress at me.”
“Did that hurt you?”
Angelina laughed. “No, how could it hurt me?”
“Why did you hit her if it did not hurt you?”
“Because it was naughty!”
“Why was it naughty?”
“She’s not supposed to lift her dress at people.”
“Did your instructor tell her not to lift her dress at people?”
“Did your instructor tell her not to lift her dress at people?”
“What is ‘urine strucktoar’?”
“Your teacher.”
“Oh, my teacher?”
“Did your teacher tell her not to lift her dress at people?”
“No, she didn’t see it.”
“Then how do you know she’s not supposed to lift her dress at people?”
“Everyone knows that.”
“How do you know that?”
“Mommy told me.”
“I mean, how do you know that everyone knows that?”
Angelina laughed. She had no idea how everyone knew that.
“Because,” she said long and drawn out, thinking of an answer. “Because I hit her.”
So now I knew it was bullying behavior, but I had lost the connection. I couldn’t find the logic and thus didn’t know the correct correcting response. I used default mode as per protocol.
“How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?”
It was the best that I could do. Angelina did not notice the deficiency. Ever ready to eat her pudding she had an answer.
“Well,” she said, drawing it out again. “If the meat is poi, poisdend, you could feed it to the dog and then the dog would eat and, and then the snot would come out of its mouse and then he would die, and

From the Kindle Nation Mailbag: A "thank you" to the citizens of Kindle Nation from Tom Harbin, author of Waking Up Blind

It was great to hear yesterday from Tom Harbin, the author of Waking Up Blind: Lawsuits over Eye Surgery. You may recall that we featured a generous excerpt from the book last week in Free Kindle Nation Shorts, and apparently it had quite an impact in creating interest in a fascinating book! 

Dear Steve

I was blown away by the results of your writing up my book,  Waking Up Blind: Lawsuits over Eye Surgery, in last week’s Kindle Nation Shorts.  In the weeks previous, my sales rank of the Kindle version had ranged from about 16,000 to 59,000.  Within eight hours of your posting, my sales rank had increased to 173.  It has fallen back a bit, but still remains in the mid triple digits instead of five digits.  You reach many people and get action. I can’t thank you and all the citizens of Kindle Nation enough and can recommend your Kindle Nation Shorts to any author or publisher looking for an increased presence among the thousands of Kindle owners who read Kindle Nation.

Tom Harbin MD 

You’re welcome, Tom. And — aside to readers — if you haven’t read the excerpt yet and downloaded the entire book, I’m here to say that you owe it to yourself to do both while the Kindle edition is still available at the 50%-off price that Tom’s publisher set in association with the book’s Free Kindle Nation Shorts placement.

Authors and Publishers: 
If you’d like to help promote great reading for Kindle owners by participating in Free Kindle Nation Shorts, send an email to KindleNation@gmail.com.